One Arts and Letters faculty member and three students are among the Graduate School's annual award-winners for the 2022–2023 academic year.
Robert Goulding, director of the Graduate Program in History and Philosophy of Science, and director of the Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values, is the winner of the Dick and Peggy Notebaert Award; Susanna De Stradis ’22, Ph.D. from the Department of History, is the recipient of the Shaheen Award in the Humanities; Luiz Vilaça, Ph.D. candidate from the Department of Sociology, is the recipient of the Shaheen Award in the Social Sciences; and Ester E. Aguirre Alfaro, Master of Arts candidate from the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, is the winner of the Social Justice Award.
In addition, the Graduate School named the other following award-winners: Monica C. Regalbuto '89 Ph.D., is the recipient of the Distinguished Graduate Alumni Award; Patricia A. Champion, Ph.D., is the recipient of the James A. Burns, C.S.C., Award; Mark Anthony Caprio, Ph.D., is the winner of the James A. Burns, C.S.C., Award; Laura M. Alderfer, Ph.D. candidate from the Graduate Program in Bioengineering,is the winner of the Shaheen Award in Engineering, and Megan Vahsen, Ph.D. candidate from the Department of Biological Sciences, is the recipient of the Shaheen Award in Science.
All the award-winners will be formally recognized for their achievements May 20 at the Graduate School Commencement Ceremony at Notre Dame Stadium. Below are profiles of the A&L winners. For full award-winner profiles, refer to The Graduate School 2023 Commencement Citation Book.
Robert Goulding, Ph.D., is the winner of the Dick and Peggy Notebaert Award which honors a faculty member or administrator who has had a significant impact on graduate studies at Notre Dame. Since 2016, Goulding has been the director of the Graduate Program in History and Philosophy of Science (HPS), and since 2017 the director of the Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values, of which HPS is a part. In those roles, he has demonstrated outstanding thoughtfulness and creativity in meeting program-specific challenges and in innovating new support structures for graduate students. These include: creation of the Reilly Center Fellowship, an award allowing top-tier Ph.D. students the opportunity to pursue additional study or research at outside universities in the early stages of their dissertation; building a new concentration within the HPS curricula; attracting additional faculty to HPS; and revamping a weekly student reading group colloquium into a forum focused on presentations and discussions about the work of HPS scholars.
Susanna De Stradis ’22, Ph.D. from the Department of History, is the recipient of the Shaheen Award in the Humanities. De Stradis is an award-winning historian of religion whose widely published scholarly work has upended and reframed traditional understandings of the complex interplay between American Catholicism, democratic values, notions of religious freedom, and mid-twentieth-century Vatican authorities. In fall 2020, De Stradis was among the first cohort of scholars to access the newly available records of Pope Pius XII’s pontificate (1939–1958) at the Vatican Archives. Her findings in Rome received a great deal of attention from scholars around the world and led to significant publications in both Italian and American journals, as well as in public-facing venues such as Commonweal and The Immanent Frame. Current University provost Dr. John T. McGreevy served as De Stradis’s adviser and considers her a true rising star in the field. “Few U.S. scholars have her linguistic capacity and intellectual drive,” he said. “Virtually no one is as well positioned to deepen our understanding of both global history and global religion. Eventually, everyone at Notre Dame and the Graduate School will bask a bit in her reflected glory.” She is a postdoctoral research associate at the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis. In the fall, she will take up an appointment as assistant professor of history at Mississippi State University.
Luiz Vilaça, Ph.D. candidate from the Department of Sociology, is the recipient of the Shaheen Award in the Social Sciences. Considered a rising star in his field, sociologist and doctoral candidate Vilaça has directed his research toward explaining the causes of anti-corruption prosecutions. His remarkable success in being published — seven publications in total, with several more on the way — underscores the impact that his research has already had on the field of sociology, as well as on public policy. His mixed-methods dissertation examines the case of Operation Car Wash in Brazil, a series of anti-corruption prosecutions that resulted in the conviction of hundreds of business executives and politicians. In it, he draws on 120 interviews with prosecutors, detectives, judges, and politicians involved in corruption investigations, as well as on survey data and an original dataset of corruption cases from the Brazilian Superior Court of Justice. Erin McDonnell, co-chair on Vilaça’s dissertation, said his research brings a fresh perspective to the issue: “Luiz’s work is at the cutting edge of policy-relevant social science. He moves beyond a decades-long tradition of documenting and lamenting corruption to break new ground on analyzing what can actually be done by organizational actors to tackle corruption where it is endemic.”Following graduation, Vilaça will begin a position as a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Inter-American Policy and Research at Tulane University. In fall 2024, he will take up an appointment as assistant professor of sociology at Bowdoin College.
Ester E. Aguirre Alfaro, M.A. candidate from the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, is the winner of the Social Justice Award that is given annually to a graduate student in the Notre Dame community who has tackled complex societal issues through his or her scholarship, teaching, and service. Aguirre Alfaro has demonstrated a tireless commitment to fighting for the marginalized — in particular, immigrants and families from Latin America — both during her master’s program at Notre Dame, and in the years preceding it. She has worked for nonprofit groups in Texas to protect and advance the rights of asylum-seeking immigrants at the border and has served as an educator for underserved student populations. While at Notre Dame, Aguirre Alfaro took on a position as assistant project coordinator with the Shaw Center for Families and Children as part of its ongoing Seguimos Avanzando project, one of the largest studies of the Mexican population in the United States. In this role, she recruited families into the study, served as a bilingual assessment coordinator, and assisted in the coding of qualitative interviews about migrant experiences of discrimination and parenting. Vanesa Miseres in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, said Aguirre Alfaro has uniquely fused scholarship and service: “Ester has a distinguished profile of a student who knows how to bring her academic training to a practical sphere and serve the community.” This fall, Aguirre Alfaro will begin a doctoral program in Hispanic studies at the University of British Columbia.
Originally published by graduateschool.nd.edu on May 10, 2023.at